This year, I set myself 22 little goals to pursue throughout the year. I call them the 22 in 22. Once a week (or there abouts), I take a few minutes to check my progress on a few of my goals.
#20 Practice Mindfulness: articulate and savor the good moments
This week, in retrospect, looks like one of those diamond tennis bracelets…or…or a pendant covered in diamond dust. This week was full of moments of connection at a deep, love-language level.
There are so many of those little moments: playing “kiss fairy” with my youngest, whose love language is touch, and chasing each other around the apartment trying to plant a juicy one in the other’s cheek…or sitting through a deep, gut-wrenching crisis with my eldest until the volcano erupted and we got to the heart of the matter.
Or, my youngest saying, “did you notice how I didn’t ask you to stop singing?” (Because usually they both yell at me to stop singing when I start), and following it up with, “I know you love to sing. So I let you.”
It’s strange how deeply we can feel these little moments, even when we are feeling otherwise numb…if we are looking for them.
#8 Learn strategies to mitigate the dopamine loop re: creative endeavors
This is not a strategy I would recommend to anyone, but it is currently working for me, so take it for what it’s worth.
I have a million things going on right now, that are all heating up at the same time: I start the Wool is Cool project at the boys’ school next week. I have a Christmas concert with our orchestra in December, for which I am, yes, singing, but also narrating and preparing visuals. I got a last-minute invitation, thanks to my buddy Jonathan, to be interviewed on a yet-to-be released program, on the subject of the Ideal Life and living out the Golden Rule (in French, wildly enough.) I’ve got this insane idea that maybe I could try selling some of the felted wool corsages I’ve made out of the Little Prince’s wool, so I’m designing packaging.
So what’s the strategy, you may ask, to escape the dopamine loop?
Get so busy that you have no time to pay attention to the results. Also, whenever possible, only do things that get you into a state of Flow and make you so happy that results don’t even matter anymore.
See? It’s easy.
#1 Connect better with the scalawags, according to their Love Languages
Or, what do you do when his Love Language is cold hard cash?
Do you remember this question from last week? We were talking about my eldest who is studying double bass at the Conservatory, and must take a two hour music theory class on Thursday evenings, which he suddenly announced he hated and never wanted to go back to.
I offered cold hard cash to my Young Scrooge, who, every single day counts his piggy bank. And even the promise of cash did not pre-empt a crisis once we arrived at the Conservatory on Thursday.
I had gleaned small details about why he didn’t like it…it was late. It was too hard. He didn’t like the class. There was a new teacher (long story), who had just arrived, and from what I understood (from my sources who work at the Conservatory), this new teacher was awesome and excited to be there, and fun and enthusiastic.
So why this dread? Why so many tears? Why did my son hate this new teacher and this class so much?
His teacher (his second grade teacher, at school school) pulled me aside in the afternoon and told me he had had a panic attack, and when he was finally consolable, she understood that he was panicked about going to Conservatory that evening. Ugh.
How did it get this bad?
So here’s how it went down. We are outside the classroom on Thursday. My kid is crying. Scream crying. Inconsolable. He’s saying he’s afraid of the new teacher. The new teacher comes out to see what’s going on, and I try to say that I really don’t know.
The teacher seems as awesome as I had heard. Why is my kid afraid of him? The teacher says that he will mark him as “excused”.
Twice we try to go back to the classroom, having talked it through. Twice, my kid panics at the door.
The teacher comes back out to the hallway, about 15 minutes into the class, where he has 20 kids around a piano singing.
“What can I do to help?” He asks. “Are you afraid of me?”
My kid nods. I give a look at the teacher like, “I don’t get it either.”
“Why are you afraid of me?” He insists.
“Because you yell.” My kid says.
Then the teacher had a visible lightbulb go on over his head.
“It’s because of last week, isn’t it?”
My kid nods.
“I’m sorry about that. It won’t happen again.”
Apparently there had been an incident (which my kid didn’t tell me about) with a kid the week before, and indeed, there was some yelling, and apparently, the kid involved was suspended (from Conservatory? I guess it happens). And my kid was afraid of the teacher because of that incident. It happens that my husband knows the parent of the kid in question, and that indeed, the kid is trouble.
“Will you come to class with me tonight?” The teacher asked.
“Yes,” my kid said. “But don’t yell.” He sounded rude, awkward, impolite. But darn it, I was proud of that kid.
When I picked him up later, he was all smiles, saying, “I love Music Theory, I love Mathieu. This is so fun.”
I was so happy. He was so happy. We had gotten to the heart of the problem, addressed it with the right person, and solved it. With a positive outcome.
“But I still want the cash,” added the kid who never loses focus.
It’s a small price to pay.